A Burger King franchisee in Florida, was ordered to pay nearly $8 million to a customer who allegedly slipped and fell at the restaurant and needed surgery for his injuries.
Richard Tulecki, 48, “suffered lower back injuries resulting in surgery” after he slipped on a “foreign substance” near the restroom of a Burger King location in Hollywood, Fla., according to court documents.
The fall caused “serious injuries” which required surgery, and Tulecki suffered a postoperative perforated colon, according to his attorneys.
The lawsuit, filed in January 2021, accused Burger King of negligence for “failing to ensure that the area and floor of the business was free and clear of any hazards.”
A Broward County jury awarded Tulecki $7.8 million in damages, including $3.35 million for lost earnings and $700,000 for medical expenses.
The court later adjusted the award to $7.68 million for medical expenses Tulecki’s insurance had already paid for.
The verdict is one of the largest slip and fall verdicts in Florida’s history, Tulecki’s attorneys at Ginnis & Krathen, P.A., said in a press release.
“Delivering this verdict to our client means everything,” said H. Ross Zelnick, one of the personal injury attorneys representing Tulekci. “Our client suffered tremendous hardship due to the Defendant’s negligence. While no verdict could undo those damages, it will provide him and his family with the resources to move forward.”
The attorneys said in the lawsuit that Tulecki will be forced “to pay large sums of money for doctor bills, hospital bills and other directly and indirectly related expenses in an effort to alleviate his suffering.”
Seven Restaurants, the owner of the Burger King franchise, filed a motion for a new trial on May 19, alleging Tulecki presented “virtually no evidence” that the restaurant’s manager had knowledge of the purported “foreign substance” that caused Tulecki’s slip and fall injuries. The motion called the $7.8 million award to Tulecki “clearly excessive.”
Attorneys for Seven Restaurants did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ginnis & Krathen attorneys said linking Tulekci’s slip and fall to his gastrointestinal issues was a “crucial factor” in the “whopper” of a verdict.
“Our decades of trial experience, limitless financial and intellectual resources, along with our dedicated team of lawyers, paralegals and medical experts, allow our firm to go toe to toe with billion dollar insurance companies,” said Zelnick.
“The insurance company denied any wrongdoing and offered only $200,000 to settle this case. We chose not to negotiate with this unreasonable insurance carrier. Together with our client we had our day in court,” said Miguel A. Amador, a top Fort Lauderdale slip and fall lawyer.